The Strong Connection Between Stress and Sleep Deficiency

The latest studies reflect a strong correlation between stress and a lack of sleep for many Americans.1 A recent NPR poll shows that approximately 70 percent of those who experienced a great deal of stress in the previous month also reported trouble with sleeping.

The poll was conducted in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, and the results come as no surprise to many experts.

“Under stressful circumstances, and when people are haunted by life, they cannot sleep very well,” says Martica Hall, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. “Daytime stress follows you into the night.”

Feeling stressed causes a fight-or-flight response in our bodies. During this commotion, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are pumped out, the heart rate increases, sugar releases into the blood, and more blood is sent to your brain and muscles. According to Hall, it’s hard to stay asleep through all that biological activity.

Hall has concluded that cortisol – which rushes to deal with stressful elements ­– remains elevated through the night. So even if you’re sleeping soundly, cortisol constantly pushes your brain to wake up and face real or perceived danger.

Most adults normally wake up for very brief periods, multiple times in a night. Known by scientists as “mini-arousals,” it only takes two or three seconds for relaxed people to resume deep sleep. Those who report feeling a lot of stress, on the other hand, experience more sustained mini-arousals that can lastmany minutes longer.

Researchers recommend going to bed and getting up at the same time every night (including weekends). This conditions your brain to release melatonin, which is crucial to getting the recommended seven or eight hours of necessary sleep. They also suggest removing cellphones, computers and TVs from the bedroom. The screens on these devices emit short-wave light that suppresses melatonin.

The importance of sleep inspired the development of Silent Nights*, one of LifeWave’s most popular patch products. With no pharmaceutical drugs or pills to take, Silent Nights is clinically shown to increase length of sleep by 66 percent.